Turning 18 is a major milestone in a teen’s life. At 18, teens are legally considered adults and gain a host of new freedoms and responsibilities overnight.
While excited teens may want to rush into all of these newly available options, it’s important to carefully consider each choice. Just because you can legally do something at 18 doesn’t always mean you should. Think through decisions thoroughly and rely on support from parents, mentors and other trusted adults for guidance.
From Teen to Adult: Things You Can Do at 18 and Explore
Below are 50+ things teens gain the legal right to do when they become adults at 18:
Voting & Civic Duties
Register to vote and participate in elections
Serve on a jury and participate in jury duty
Run for public office such as city council or mayor
Sign/circulate petitions for a cause
Military & Firearms
Enlist in the armed forces without parental consent
Own and operate firearms (restrictions vary by state)
Open your own PO box to receive mail confidentially
Substances & Vices
Purchase and consume alcohol and cannabis (where legal)
Get tattoos and body piercings without parental consent
Buy spray paint, glue, and other hazardous items
Take out private student loans and apply for grants
Apply for colleges and universities solo
Criminal Acts & Punishment
Jailed with adults if arrested
Tried and sentenced as an adult for crimes
Death penalty eligibility for serious offenses
Apply for financial aid and scholarships solo
Take full responsibility for student loan debt
While many of these new privileges are exciting, not all activities are wise for an 18-year-old to engage in. Some have serious risks associated with them if not thoroughly considered. Teens should maintain open conversations with caring adults to make the soundest choices. Though legally an adult, mentors can provide invaluable guidance as you navigate this new phase of independence.
Turning 18 is an opportunity to demonstrate maturity and personal responsibility. Welcoming these new freedoms thoughtfully and weighing them against your values will set you on the right track to adulthood. Stay focused on your goals and surround yourself with positive role models. The choices you make at 18 can impact the rest of your life, so use your best judgment!